Weird of the Day: The Sand Noise Device


Reason #1,386 why we should have gone to Moogfest: A bunch of students from Cal State presented a contraption called the Sand Noise Device that’s basically a sandbox for Brian Eno fans. Using a Microsoft Kinect, an overhead projector and a box of sand filled with movable lights, it sends out circles and traces of light that some custom software converts into various tones and drones, all of which alter their pitch based on the topography of the sand and the positioning of the little circular light objects. Translation: It’s a really fucking cool, tactile synthesizer.

You can read an interview with the Sand Noise Device’s inventors via Vice’s The Creators Project, and learn more about how it works via the official website. Or you can just watch the video below and go, “Wow! I wonder how they did that?”


Weird of the Day, Moogfest Edition: Le1f


Next up in our ongoing celebration of Moogfest‘s weirdest artists: New York rapper Le1f. We’ve already featured the man born Khalif Diouf as our Weird Band of the Week, but he deserves another shout-out, because nobody else right now is making hip-hop that’s simultaneously this provocative and (potentially) commercial. If any gay hip-hop artist can break the genre’s homophobia barrier, it’s Le1f.

Here’s his latest video, for the track “Boom” off his recently released Hey EP. Would you like fries with that?

Le1f plays Moogfest on Saturday, Apr. 26th. For more info, visit the official Moogfest site.

Weird of the Day, Moogfest Edition: Kraftwerk


Today’s Moogfest performer needs no introduction, but I’ll do one anyway: Kraftwerk, unarguably the most influential electronic musicians of all time. Without their pioneering, all-synths version of krautrock, it’s fair to say that most of today’s strains of electronic music wouldn’t exist.

To this day, Kraftwerk live shows operate on two levels: as a purist expression of button-pushing electronica at its most mechanical, and as a sly commentary of the increasingly mechanical, button-pushing nature of modern life in general. I’m not sure if they’re still trotting out their robot doppelgangers for “We Are the Robots” these days, but I do know they’ve got some crazy 3D projections and are digging pretty deep into their catalog, playing classic albums like Autobahn and Trans-Europe Express in their entirety.

Kraftwerk plays three shows at Moogfest, one on Thursday, Apr. 24th and two on Friday, Apr. 25th. Visit the official Moogfest site for more details.

Weird of the Day, Moogfest Edition: Dan Deacon

Dan Deacon

Next up on our countdown to Moogfest (Apr. 23-27 in the bucolic mountains of North Carolina): Baltimore synth ninja Dan Deacon. Deacon first gained attention in the mid-’00s with a sound and performance style that married the raw energy of punk with the danceable, programmed beats of techno and synth-pop. He probably also helped make giant glasses and beards popular with hipsters, but try not to hold that against him.

On more recent albums like 2012’s America, Deacon’s been incorporating more live instrumentation; he even toured with a 14-piece band for 2009’s Bromst. But he remains best-known for synth freakouts like this seizure inducer from 2007’s Spiderman of the Rings. (Apologies for the poor quality; YouTube was a primitive place in 2007.)

Dan Deacon plays Moogfest on Thursday, Apr. 24th. For more info, visit the official Moogfest site.

Weird of the Day, Moogfest Edition: Flying Lotus

Flying Lotus

Next up in our ongoing celebration of the ultra-weird lineup at Moogfest (Apr. 23-27 in Asheville, North Carolina): L.A.-based electronic music innovator Steven Ellison, better known as Flying Lotus. For nearly a decade, FlyLo has been at the forefront of a new style of electronica called simply beat music, which mixes distorted, tumbling hip-hop beats with spacey synths and jazz-influenced keyboards and basslines. Ellison himself is jazz royalty of a sort; he’s the great-nephew of Alice and John Coltrane. A ton of producers make this style of music now, many of them for FlyLo’s Brainfeeder label. But Ellison remains beat music’s lone Jedi master.

Here’s a track from his 2010 album Cosmogramma featuring frequent collaborator and Native American headdress enthusiast Thundercat.

Flying Lotus appears at Moogfest on Wednesday, Apr. 23rd. For more info, visit the official Moogfest site.

Weird of the Day, Moogfest Edition: Holly Herndon

Holly Herndon

Next week, Asheville, North Carolina will play host to Moogfest, an annual electronic music, technology and art festival honoring synthesizer pioneer (and longtime Asheville resident) Robert Moog. The festival is one America’s best when it comes to booking leftfield artists, so every day leading up to the festival, we’ll share some of the weirdest entries on Moogfest’s packed, five-day (Apr. 23-27) lineup.

First up: San Francisco-based singer/composer Holly Herndon, who creates ethereal, abstract soundscapes formed almost entirely out of her looped and processed vocals. Herndon’s hardly the only electronic voice artist on the scene these days, but she’s certainly one of the most innovative, as this wildly disorienting video for “Chorus” illustrates.

Herndon appears at Moogfest on Saturday, Apr. 26th. For more info, visit the official Moogfest site.